Clubhouse chatter

August 17, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

Hard work is usually considered a reflection of a job well done.

If that's the case, Hagerstown Suns manger Mike Ramsey, pitching coach Bob Stanley and hitting coach Willie Aviles should feel enriched beyond their paychecks.

In spite of injuries, roster turnover and an offense suffering from anemia, the Suns somehow remain in the hunt for a Wild Card berth in next month's South Atlantic League playoffs.

The clubhouse could have a revolving door with a Red Cross because of the number of forced and medical changes the Suns have made. In fact, only 15 of the original 25 players sent to Hagerstown in April remain with the team - and that number dropped to 13 this week with the season-ending injuries suffered by Karl Jernigan and Jason Columbus.


Ramsey has used his even- keel, mild-mannered approach to guide the Suns through a hailstorm of problems. In situations that would leave many gasping for air, Ramsey has been able to breathe.

Ramsey has handled the big picture, while Stanley and Aviles have handled the details.

Pitching has been the Suns' strong suit and crutch this season, and Stanley has mastered the art of getting the most out of every pitcher on the roster.

Coming into this final homestand of the season, Hagerstown pitchers were 59-58 with a collective 3.16 ERA. The Suns have held steady despite losing three starters from their opening-day roster, and now their closer with this week's promotion of Matt Palmer.

The players who have left the Suns allowed 86 runs in 284 2/3 innings for an ERA of 2.72.

Offensively, without Jernigan and Columbus, only seven position players remain off the original roster. The Suns have been at their best when they could play a set, everyday lineup, which had been rare.

The Suns had a team batting average of .235 entering Friday's game. The seven opening day holdovers are hitting a combined .236 with 22 of Hagerstown's 37 home runs, while the departed players, including Jernigan and Columbus, have hit .219 with 11 homers.

The in-season replacements are hitting .256 - which includes Fred Lewis, who joined the Suns in the second week - with four home runs.

So the fact that the Suns are still knocking on the playoff door can almost be considered a miracle, or the will of the team's coaching staff.

Ex-Suns rise

Two former Suns have been recently promoted and are starting to play in the major leagues.

  • Former Suns catcher Kevin Cash was called up by Toronto on Monday and will be doing the majority of the behind-the-plate duties for the Jays for the rest of the season. He is hitting .125 in two games for the Blue Jays.

  • Pitcher John Bale was promoted to the Cincinnati Reds on July 30. He is 0-0 in three appearances, including two starts, with a 0.71 ERA.

The name game

On Monday, the Hagerstown Suns and web design and hosting firm SkilTech, Inc., will enter into a one-week partnership that includes naming the team's field "SkilTech Field at Municipal Stadium" through next Sunday, the Suns' final home game of the season.

The cost for one week of naming rights: $95.

"I suspect it will be confusing at first, but I'm certain people will get used to it," Suns general manager Kurt Landes said. "But by the time they get used to it, the name will have already changed back."

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